Jared Cannonier, the #3 ranked UFC middleweight contender, fought his way back in the winners column — earning his fourth victory at middleweight via a very close and competitive unanimous decision triumph over former interim title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum to round out the UFC Vegas 34 card.
It has seemed at times as if Kelvin Gastelum’s UFC career has been a roller coaster. Climbing that mountain to the top on The Ultimate Fighter 17, winning the season at middleweight, only to drop to welterweight and struggle at the scales. Finishing Vitor Belfort, only for the win to be overturned due to a positive test for marijuana use.
Not to mention earning an interim title fight with Israel Adesanya, coming up just short, then struggling in subsequent bouts.
On Saturday at UFC Vegas 34, that roller coaster brought Gastelum to fellow 185lb contender Jared Cannonier, who was looking to shake off a loss to Robert Whittaker.
Gastelum had a high pace early in the fight, forcing Cannonier to go on the backfoot. Gastelum’s jab landed cleanly, but a one-two combination connected for Cannonier in response. An outside leg kick staggered Gastelum then Cannonier followed with a tight combination inside. A pair of combinations were thrown by Gastelum with a body kick ending it each time. Gastelum ended the round with a takedown attempt against the cage.
Cannonier struggled to land early in the second, but Gastelum was unable to take full advantage. After a bit of a stalemate, Gastelum shot for a takedown but was stuffed. His leg kicks on the feet, though, were helping him lead the dance.
Cannonier started things off quickly in the third round, knocking down Gastelum soon after the start of the round. It was a beautiful right hand that seated Gastelum. A counter right hand landed for Cannonier, but a one-two combination rocked Cannonier just as quickly. The follow-up takedown attempts were unsuccessful, however.
Cannonier turned up the gas in the fourth round, forcing Gastelum to clinch up against the fence. Cannonier breaks free and got back to work, landing a stiff head kick. Gastelum continued to move forward. The biggest strike of the round, though, was a huge uppercut that rocked Gastelum. A desperation takedown attempt helped him survive the round.
Gasteulm was pressuring to start the final round but was hit by a huge elbow. He then nearly secured a takedown after landing a left, but Cannonier stayed upright. Gastelum went for another takedown and secured it this time around. Cannonier worked his way up and landed a straight punch down the pipe. Gastelum, however, was winning the stand-up battle in the final round, mixing in a late takedown attempt. The fight ended shortly after a big knee by Cannonier.